The Tech in California’s Silicon Valley really should’t be called a museum. The word museum conjures up images of old things to look at and admire. The Tech is more of an experience – a place to try things out, learn from what you have done and then do it better. It’s very Silicon Valley. Work while having fun and doing cool things. That’s what The Tech is all about.
We visit every time we are in San Jose and the girls always learn something new. The Tech is one of the few museums every member of my family enjoys – we all agree we could spend a couple of days there and not get bored.
The Tech is a must do on the Silicon Valley Tech tour circuit. Located in the heart of downtown San Jose, The Tech caters to all ages but is especially good for teens and pre teens. If you have really little ones, try the Children’s Discovery Museum which is just around the corner.
**Read my post Silicon Valley Tech Tour: Top 13 sites to visit **
My 12-year-old’s perspective
The Tech Museum was really cool! There was so much to do, but my favourite activity was the jet-pack simulator. At the top of the jet-pac there was a red light on the ceiling, and there was also a lot of separate green lights on the ceiling. Once you were in the jet pack you had 1 minute to move via controls to try to get the red light on the green light. It was really fun as it felt like I was an astronaut!
Your experience starts with your ticket – which is also a Tech Tag. You scan your ticket at exhibits to personalise your experience and then when you get home you can log in and retrieve mementos and reminders of your visit. It’s pretty cool.
Most people go straight up the escalator to the main floor – the Innovation Gallery – where you can try Social Circles, which highlight the social side of technology. My girls (ages 10, 12 and 14) made their way around this dance floor sized display, encased in multi-coloured bubbles. When they bumped into each other the circles got bigger and changed colours.
From that you can’t miss Reface, which uses state-of-the-art face-tracking software to mash pics of museum visitors and project them, large-than-life, on to the wall. The girls had loads of fun with this – and so did I!
In Robot Design Basics, we used a SCARM (Selective Compliance Assembly Robot Arm) which sifted through wooden alphabet blocks and spelled the girls’ names – putting each letter block back at the same spot hundreds of times each day. You can request it to spell anything.
In the bio tinkering lab we grew mushroom bricks – an alternative building and packing material. We put on gloves, shaped our blocks out of agricultural waste and let them grow!
Then we designed and rode our own Roller Coaster. First we programmed the ride to make sure it was safe and not too steep and then we got to try it out in a simulator. Very cool.
My 11-year-old’s perspective
The Tech Museum was lots of fun. There were so many exciting thins to do! I especially enjoyed the rollercoaster exhibit – where you can design and ride your own rollercoaster, deciding where the hills and drops were and what the thriller was at the end. You had to choose carefully making sure it wasn’t too slow or too dangerous. Afterwards you 3 other people could test it our in a simulator with a screen. It was so cool!
In the Google Earth exhibit – we zoomed in on London and Westminster Abbey – found the London Eye and then the exact room we stayed in at the Park Plaza! Weird and a bit creepy.
Anatomage is a San Jose tech company that specialises in 3D medical technology. Their Anatomage Table is an advanced anatomy visualization system for anatomy education and is used by many of the world’s leading medical schools and institutions. A technician demonstrated the system and we all felt like we were in an episode of Bones.
Downstairs is the Tech Studio – it’s a collaborative design space where there are activities focused on learning about science, technology, engineering, art, math and engineering design. You get to try something out and then make it better. We learned about 3D printers, used our ingenuity to build an experiment to get a ball from one side of the room to the other, and then designed and built our own gliders and raced them.
The Tech is absolutely amazing – don’t miss it if you have kids and are in Silicon Valley.
IF YOU GO:
The Tech Museum of Innovation 201 S Market St San Jose, CA 95113 +1 (408) 294-8324 www.thetech.org $23 adults, $19 kids and seniors.
Convention Centre Garage (150 W. San Carlos St.): Weekday and weekend validation for a $5 flat rate. (Garage entrance on Almaden Boulevard between San Carlos and Balbach streets.)
2nd and San Carlos Garage (280 S. 2nd St.): Weekday and weekend validation for a $5 flat rate.
CityView Plaza Garage (115 S. Market St.):Validated $5 flat rate if arriving after 5 p.m. on a weekday, or anytime on a weekend.
The other parking options are much more expensive.
Insider Tip: On the weekends, Peggy Sue’s next door validates completely at the City View lot with any purchase. So you could buy a milkshake, or lunch and park for free!
The uncle’s perspective
I enjoyed the Social Robots area. I loved helping my niece put together her social robot. All the parts that went on it were exciting to work with. At first we were a bit confused, but soon we were well on our way. In the end we named our robot “Jeff” who was a sheriff who cooked. It was load of fun.